Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
IN THE INTEREST OF J.G.M., D.M., L.G.M. & L.E.M., CHILDREN
from the 307th District Court of Gregg County, Texas (Tr.Ct.
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
appeals the termination of his parental rights. In one issue,
he challenges the factual sufficiency to support the finding
that termination was in the best interests of the children.
A.W. is the mother of J.G.M.,
D.M., L.G.M., and L.E.M. L.M. is the father of D.M., L.G.M.,
and L.E.M. J.G.R.M. is the father of J.G.M. On August 7, 2017,
the Department of Family and Protective Services (the
Department) filed an original petition for protection of the
children, for conservatorship, and for termination of
L.M.'s, A.W.'s, and J.G., R.M.'s parental rights.
The Department was appointed temporary managing conservator
of the children, and L.M. and A.W. were appointed temporary
possessory conservators with limited rights, duties, access,
conclusion of the trial on the merits, the trial court found,
by clear and convincing evidence, that L.M. engaged in one or
more of the acts or omissions necessary to support
termination of his parental rights under subsections (D),
(E), (F), (J), and (O) of Texas Family Code Section
161.001(b)(1). The trial court also found that termination of
the parent-child relationship between L.M., D.M., L.G.M., and
L.E.M. is in the children's best interest. Based on these
findings, the trial court ordered that the parent-child
relationship between L.M., D.M., L.G.M., and L.E.M. be
terminated. This appeal followed.
of Parental Rights
termination of parental rights embodies fundamental
constitutional rights. Vela v. Marywood, 17 S.W.3d
750, 759 (Tex. App.-Austin 2000), pet. denied per
curiam, 53 S.W.3d 684 (Tex. 2001); In re J.J.,
911 S.W.2d 437, 439 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 1995, writ denied).
Because a termination action "permanently sunders"
the bonds between a parent and child, the proceedings must be
strictly scrutinized. Wiley v. Spratlan, 543 S.W.2d
349, 352 (Tex. 1976); In re Shaw, 966 S.W.2d 174,
179 (Tex. App.-El Paso 1998, no pet.).
161.001 of the family code permits a court to order
termination of parental rights if two elements are
established. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001 (West Supp.
2018); In re J.M.T., 39 S.W.3d 234, 237 (Tex.
App.-Waco 1999, no pet.). First, the parent must have engaged
in any one of the acts or omissions itemized in the second
subsection of the statute. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1) (West Supp. 2018); Green v. Tex. Dep't
of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 25 S.W.3d 213,
219 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2000, no pet.); In re J.M.T.,
39 S.W.3d at 237. Second, termination must be in the best
interest of the child. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(2) (West Supp. 2018); In re J.M.T., 39
S.W.3d at 237. Both elements must be established by clear and
convincing evidence, and proof of one element does not
alleviate the petitioner's burden of proving the other.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001; Wiley, 543
S.W.2d at 351; In re J.M.T., 39 S.W.3d at 237.
clear and convincing standard for termination of parental
rights is both constitutionally and statutorily mandated.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001; In re J.J., 911
S.W.2d at 439. Clear and convincing evidence means "the
measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of
the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth
of the allegations sought to be established." Tex. Fam.
Code Ann. § 101.007 (West 2019). The burden of proof is
upon the party seeking the deprivation of parental rights.
In re J.M.T., 39 S.W.3d at 240.
appropriate standard for reviewing a factual sufficiency
challenge to the termination findings is whether the evidence
is such that a fact finder could reasonably form a firm
belief or conviction about the truth of the petitioner's
allegations. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25 (Tex.
2002). In determining whether the fact finder met this
standard, an appellate court considers all the evidence in
the record, both that in support of and contrary to the trial
court's findings. Id. at 27-29. Further, an
appellate court should consider whether disputed evidence is
such that a reasonable fact finder could not have reconciled
that disputed evidence in favor of its finding. In re
J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex. 2002). The trier of
fact is the exclusive judge of the credibility of the
witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony.
Nordstrom v. Nordstrom, 965 S.W.2d 575, 580 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, pet. denied).
Interest of the Child
sole issue, L.M. argues the evidence is factually
insufficient to support a finding that termination of his
parental rights is in the children's best interest. In
determining the best interest of the child, a number of
factors have been considered, including (1) the desires of
the child; (2) the emotional and physical needs of the child
now and in the future; (3) the emotional and physical danger
to the child now and in the future; (4) the parental
abilities of the individuals seeking custody; (5) the
programs available to assist these individuals; (6) the plans
for the child by these individuals; (7) the stability of the
home; (8) the acts or omissions of the parent that may